Category: South Side Slopes

  • Mary L. Bayer House, South Side Slopes

    Just about every ugly thing that can happen to an old house has happened to this once-grand Second Empire mansion on the back end of Warrington Avenue. It has been sheathed in artificial siding. All the windows have been replaced with windows and doors in the wrong shapes. Almost all the trim has been removed (if you enlarge the picture, you can find a tiny remnant in the pediment over the front entrance). The porch has been replaced with treated lumber, which manufacturers assure us never has to be painted and therefore is always allowed to decay into even uglier colors than it was originally. The front entrance has been replaced with cheap doors from a home center.

    Yet, with all that, there is still a pleasing symmetry to the house that gives it a kind of senescent dignity. At present, it stands in a nice working-class neighborhood where houses are worthless, or at least not worth enough to make any substantial work on this one profitable. But it has a magnificent view of the city, and if someone with a little money were to adopt it, it could be remade into an attractive single-family mansion again, or a more attractive apartment house.

    Old Pa Pitt does not know the history of this house. On the Pittsburgh Historic Maps site, it first appears on the 1890 layer, suggesting that it was built in the 1880s. From then until 1923, it is marked as belonging to Mary L. Bayer or M. L. Bayer.

  • Skyline from the South Side Slopes

    Skyline from the South Side Slopes

    The skyline of downtown Pittsburgh as seen from the back end of Warrington Avenue on the South Side Slopes.

    Skyline with more Slopes
    Slightly wider view
  • St. Josaphat’s in Black and White

    Two attempts at arty photography with the old Samsung Digimax V4 set on monochrome mode. We also have more ordinary color pictures of St. Josaphat’s.

  • St. Josaphat’s War Memorial, South Side Slopes

    A memorial to the large number from St. Josaphat’s who served in both World Wars. It stands across the narrow street from the church, set into the hillside, with a statue of Christ displaying his Sacred Heart and welcoming us to stop and read the names. As you can guess from the names if you enlarge the picture, St. Josaphat’s was a Polish congregation.

    Statue of Christ
    Art Deco eagle
  • Houses on the South Side Slopes

    Improbable houses on the Slopes, with a view of Oakland in the background.

  • St. Michael’s Convent and Orphan Asylum, South Side Slopes

    St. Michael’s Convent and Orphan Asylum

    The line between painted and unpainted on this long building is an artifact of its history. For most of its life this building was divided in two parts: the painted part was the convent, and the unpainted part the orphan asylum. More recently it has been a Franciscan retreat center known as the Burning Bush House of Prayer, whose somewhat archaic site tells us that the building was put up “in three stages, from 1887 to 1889.”

    Oblique view
  • St. Josaphat Church, South Side Slopes

    St. Josaphat

    John T. Comès, one of our best ecclesiastical architects, accepted the challenge of an almost impossible site and came up with this distinctive design for a Polish parish. It was built between 1909 and 1916.

    According to the South Side Slopes site, “The church closed permanently after a section of ceiling collapsed about the casket of the last caretaker during his funeral mass.” This is the sort of detail a novelist would invent and then throw out as too implausible for a sophisticated audience.

    Tower
    Tower
    Entrance
    Relief
    Romanesque ornament
    Dome
    Rear
  • Frame House on the South Side Slopes

    A good example of how a frame house can be restored to look very attractive without breaking the bank. The most important thing is to preserve the trim if at all possible, or to substitute new trim that has the same proportions as the old. This house in what we might call vernacular Second-Empire style is on Pius Street.

  • St. Michael’s Mädchen Schule, South Side Slopes

    St. Michael’s Mädchen Schule

    Like many ethnic churches, St. Michael’s, a German Catholic church on the South Side Slopes, was the center of a whole village of ethnic institutions. This was a German girls’ school. The building will eventually disappear, but it has sat in this decrepit state for many years now. You can find photographs on line of the wreckage of the once-magnificent interior; old Pa Pitt is not enough of an urban adventurer to risk trespassing charges and serious injury to bring you such pictures himself.

    St. Michael’s Girls’ School

    Perhaps in an expensive neighborhood this building would find a use, but this neighborhood is not likely to become expensive enough to repay the several million dollars it would probably cost to rescue a school of this size.

    Entrance
    Inscription
    St. Michael’s Girls’ School

    Curiously, the girl’s school was much larger and more magnificent than the boys’ school. That building, next door, was clumsily and unsympathetically converted to apartments some years ago; the conversion itself is already showing its age.

    St. Michael’s Boys’ School
    St. Michael’s Boys’ School.
  • Stairway to the Slopes

    This stairway at the end of 15th Street, South Side, takes pedestrians up to a bridge over the railroad, and then to a stairway up into the South Side Slopes.